by Byte's Editorial Board
It's the end of 2015, which means it's time to select the best games of the year. To celebrate, members of Byte's editorial board picked their favorite games to highlight. The games below are the favorites of CJ Streetman (@GalledGiatric), Byte's Reviews Editor.
5. Life Is Strange
"You are all that matters to me."
Life is Strange is the single best version of the overused episodic point-and-click genre. Despite some hello-my-fellow-teens-esque dialogue, the story focuses so acutely on the protagonist pair that it overcomes the problem of your choices not seeming to matter. The game culminates in a single decision that overrides all the rest, but it is a decision that is so morally grey on both sides that to this day I keep flipping sides on what I believe is the best choice. It is a narrative experience that relies more on how you as a player will feel than what your characters will experience as consequences. It’s a fresh take on a genre that’s quickly becoming very old.
4. Destiny Year 2
"Huddled at the mountain’s base, we had no choice but to beat our ploughshares into swords once more.”
There was a serious discussion about whether I could put this game on my list, due to Destiny 1.0 releasing over a year ago. However, anyone can go back and look at my own review of the vanilla game to see how what I thought of the initial release. Destiny has, more than any other game in my opinion, improved dramatically since launch, to the point where I do consider Year 2 Destiny a completely different game. It’s terribly important to have others to play with, however. Get a clan (I personally recommend either the Dames of Destiny or the Safe Gamers), pick up a weapon, and go fight the Darkness.
3. Spooky's House of Jumpscares
"Or are there even a thousand rooms? Cuz I really don't know."
Spooky’s is a charming, horrifying, hilarious juxtaposition of straight-faced seriousness and mockery of the horror genre. It draws you into a false sense of security and slowly – very slowly – reveals that you have been tricked. In most games, the joke would end here, but Spooky’s goes the extra mile, bringing you into the joke, letting you live it just a bit longer before finally delivering a punchline that every single room has been building toward.
2. Her Story
"Oh, the wind and the rain."
Her Story is unlike anything else that has come out in a decade. It is the prime example of how to bring back a genre. More importantly, however, the vast majority of the experience, the mystery, the search, the unraveling of an out-of-order story told through lies, is mostly optional. The game encourages you to quit when you feel that you’re done. This, combined with the game never confirming a truth, means that any player can have an entirely different conclusion about the events of the game. It’s a truly masterful, and intriguing, mystery.
1. The Beginner's Guide
“To play this game properly, you must keep your eyes closed.”
This is the game of the year. This is the single most important and brilliantly executed game of the year. This is the game that made me experience the widest breadth of emotion of anything out there. This is the game that anyone who cares about games and how they’re made need to play. There’s not a lot to say that won’t spoil the experience, as it is a short journey. Simply, The Beginner’s Guide is a masterpiece.